No, you don’t have to pay for using an Alexa smart speaker device. You can use the Alexa app and Amazon website for free. However, if you want to use some of the more advanced features, you may need to sign up for a paid subscription.
For example, if you want to use Amazon Music Unlimited, you’ll need to pay $9.99 per month or $8.99 per month if you are Amazon Prime member. Otherwise, you can still listen to music through Amazon’s Music Service – you just can’t get every song you may want to hear.
I love my Echo devices and they truly do make my life easier and frankly, a bit more fun. I do pay for the premium services of Amazon’s Music Unlimited because I love listening to all kinds of music, depending on the energy of the day.
The Amazon Echo and Dot are fabulous products that can make a senior’s life so much easier. It can tell you the weather forecast, time, stock prices, play games, set cooking timers, provide medication reminders and the list goes on.alexaforseniors.net
The other cost to consider is the amount of electricity that an Echo device uses. It’s estimated that one device uses about 15.2 killowatt hours for an entire year which for most homes tallies up to about $2.00 per year. (source cnet.com)
There are several questions that my friends and neighbors (who don’t yet have an Alexa device) ask me so I thought it would be a good idea to write a blog post about these questions.
Just in case you aren’t quite sure what an Alexa (Echo) device is, let’s start with that.
What is an Amazon Echo and How Does it Work?
An Amazon Echo (aka Alexa speaker) is a hands-free, voice controlled device that uses the Alexa Voice Service to play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more. All you have to do is ask.
Alexa is an artificial intelligence program, meaning creators structured its algorithms to mimic the human thought process. Tech-specifics aside, this means Alexa interactions aim to act like a human assistant. For now, she is just a voice incorporated into Amazon’s smart devices to help enhance user experience.makeuseof.com
The Amazon Echo has seven microphones and noise cancellation so it can hear you from across the room even while you’re watching TV or listening to music. It also has far-field voice recognition so it can hear you from a distance.
The Echo is always on and connected to the cloud so it can respond instantly when you say “Alexa”.
Is There a Monthly Charge for Alexa?
No, there is no monthly charge for Alexa. You may incur charges for using certain skills or services, such as music subscriptions, but there is no monthly fee to use Alexa.
However, there is a fee for Wi-fi which you get through your Internet Service provider and you do need Wi-fi to use an Alexa device.
Are There Any Hidden Costs Associated With Alexa?
No, there are no hidden costs associated with Alexa. You don’t need to pay anything extra to use Alexa, and there are no monthly fees. However, keep in mind that some of the third-party skills and services that you can access through Alexa may have their own fees.
For example, if you use a skill that orders a product for you, you may be charged for the cost of that product. Also, if you want to have the ability to call 911, you’ll need the paid version of the Buddy Skill to do that.
What Do I Need to Get Started on Alexa?
To get started with Alexa, you’ll need an Amazon account and an Alexa-enabled device. Once you have those set up, you can start using voice commands to interact with your device.
For example, you can ask Alexa to play music, provide information about the weather, or add items to your shopping list. There are also a number of skills that you can enable, which will allow you to do things like order a pizza or play games.
To get started, just say “Alexa, enable skill.” For more information about Alexa and how to get started, visit Amazon’s help page. Read about 30 Alexa skills we recommend for seniors.
With Alexa, you can easily provide hands-free voice control of your compatible devices. This means doing things like turning on a light, opening your garage door, turning on the television, etc.
Do I Need an Amazon Account to Use Alexa?
Yes, you do need an Amazon account to use Alexa but it does not cost you anything. You just need to sign up for a free Amazon account to use Alexa. There is a paid Amazon account (known as Prime), but you don’t need to be a Prime member to use Alexa.
To set up your device, download the Amazon app to your smartphone, connect it to a Wi-Fi network and then follow the instructions in the Amazon Alexa app. Once your device is set up and connected to a Wi-Fi network, you can start using it.
Does an Alexa Need Wi-fi?
Yes, an Amazon Alexa-enabled device requires a Wi-Fi connection in order to work properly. Without Wi-Fi, the device will not be able to connect to the internet and thus will not be able to perform its many functions, such as playing music, providing information, and controlling smart devices.
The first time you set up an Alexa device you’ll have to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi account so you should have the information on hand.
Is Music Free on Alexa?
Yes you can enjoy free music on Alexa with Amazon Music Free Tier. With this, you can stream hundreds of playlists and stations without any ads. If you want to upgrade to ad-free listening or download songs for offline playback, you can sign up for Amazon Music Unlimited (aka Prime Music or Amazon Music Prime) or other music streaming services.
You can also listen to music from other streaming music services such as apple music and more. The specific services are dependent on where you live.
Here’s some information about some of the most popular music streaming services that you can play on Alexa:
Amazon Music Unlimited
Amazon Music Unlimited is a streaming music service that offers ad-free listening and unlimited downloads of songs. You can listen to any song, album, or playlist on demand. You can also download songs for offline playback.
Amazon Music Unlimited costs $9.99 per month for individuals, or $14.99 per month for families (up to 6 family members). You can cancel anytime. If you have an Amazon Prime membership, your cost is $8.99 per month for individuals.
Spotify is a subscription music streaming service with over 30 million tracks and counting. You can access Spotify on your computer, mobile device, or through any Amazon device. There is a paid subscription and a free version as well.
With Spotify premium (the paid version) on Alexa, you can ask to play music from any artist, album, playlist, or genre. You can also search for specific songs, albums, and artists using voice commands.
The free Spotify version allows you to choose music from playlists only, not specific songs or artists, etc.
To set up Spotify (or any of the following music stream programs on Alexa), follow these steps. But if the program requires an account, it’s a good idea to go ahead and make sure you have an account with that service before you go through these steps.
- Open the Alexa app on your smartphone
- Tap on “More” on the bottom right of the screen
- Tap on “Settings”
- Scroll down a bit and tap on “Music & Podcasts”
- Tap on whichever streaming service(s) you want to use and follow the prompts.
Once you’ve linked your streaming account, you can start streaming music right away. Just say “Alexa, play some music” or “Alexa, play my Discover Weekly playlist.”
This is a free, all-in-one digital radio service that lets you listen to thousands of live radio stations or create your own custom stations based on your favorite artists and songs. iHeartRadio is available on Alexa-enabled devices, like Amazon Echo, Echo Dot, and Tap.
To start listening to iHeartRadio on your Alexa-enabled device, just say “Alexa, play iHeartRadio.” There’s no need to sign up and create an account.
You can also ask Alexa to play a specific station or genre of music. For example, you can say “Alexa, play Hits 1 on iHeartRadio” or “Alexa, play pop on iHeartRadio.”
If you have an iHeartRadio account, you can sign in with your username and password to access your custom stations. To do this, just say “Alexa, sign in to iHeartRadio” and follow the prompts.
If you don’t have an account, don’t worry! You can still create custom stations based on your favorite artists and songs. Just say “Alexa, create a new station on iHeartRadio.“
Alexa will also keep you up to date on the latest news, sports, weather and more with the iHeartRadio Flash Briefing. To listen, just say “Alexa, what’s in the news?” or “Alexa, play my flash briefing.“
You can also listen to live radio stations from across the country on iHeartRadio. Just say “Alexa, play (station name).“
Whether you’re a longtime iHeartRadio user or just getting started, there’s plenty to explore with our Alexa skill. So get listening!
Sign up for a free account on TuneIn and you’ll have access to free Internet radio, live news, music, sports and podcasts.
You can ask Alexa to play any of the millions of songs, stations, and shows on TuneIn. Just say “Alexa, play _____ on TuneIn” to get started.
Yet another music video streaming service is Vevo. It offers on-demand access to tens of thousands of music videos. And now with the Vevo skill for Alexa, you can ask Alexa to play any artist, album, or song from Vevo’s massive catalog of music videos.
There’s no set up (meaning you do not have to set up an account) and no cost.
You can just ask Alexa to play a specific music video by a specific artist, title or genre.
If you enjoy listening to live radio, then you’ll love Amp. With this skill, you can ask Alexa to play popular stations like BBC Radio 1 and Capital FM. Just say “Alexa, enable Amp” to get started.
To start listening to a radio station, just say “Alexa, ask Amp to play <station name>“. You can also ask for a specific song or artist by saying “Alexa, ask Amp to play <song or artist> on <station name>“.
If you want to hear the latest news, weather, or traffic update, just say “Alexa, ask Amp for the news” or “Alexa, ask Amp for the weather“.
No subscription and no cost to use the Amp skill on Alexa.
These music services (and others) can help to bring all kinds of music into your life. And just in case you’ve forgotten, music can play a very important part in alleviating depression, anxiety, etc.
Older adults benefit from music that improves their moods, brings back older, happy memories, encourages socialization, and promotes overall mental and physical health.seniorlifepa.com
What Can Alexa Play for Free?
There are plenty of free services that Alexa comes equipped with right out of the box. Here are some examples:
- The weather forecast
- Traffic reports
- News stories
- Facts and trivia
- Comedy routines
- Movie showtimes
- Music (from Amazon Music, TuneIn, iHeartRadio, and Spotify)
- Audiobooks (from Audible)
- Radio stations
- Sports scores and schedules
There is so much Alexa can do for free. She’s always expanding her skills and abilities, so the possibilities are endless!
What is the Difference Between Alexa and Echo?
To put it simply, Alexa is the voice assistant that powers Echo. Amazon Echo is the physical device that Alexa works on. Culturally, we’ve just all gotten used to calling these devices “Alexa” but if we want to be technically correct, when we refer to the device, it’s called Echo. If we want to refer to the voice from the device, then we call it Alexa.
There are multiple Echo devices – check them out here.
Echo also has seven microphones and beamforming technology so it can hear you from across the room—even while music is playing. Echo is also an expertly tuned speaker that can fill any room with immersive sound.
Beamforming is a type of radio frequency (RF) management in which a wireless signal is directed toward a specific receiving device. Beamforming is applied to numerous technologies, including wireless communications, acoustics, radar and sonar. The RF management technique directs radio and sound waves for signal transmission or reception.techtarget.com
When you want to use Echo, just say the wake word “Alexa” and Echo responds instantly. If you have more than one Echo or Echo Dot, Alexa responds intelligently from the Echo device you’re closest to with ESP (Echo Spatial Perception).
What Echo Devices Do I Recommend?
For families and seniors, I recommend a combination of Echo Dot devices as well as the Echo Show, which are Alexa enabled devices with smart displays.
I recommend a device in every room of the house, especially for seniors. The reason is that each device can be configured slightly differently to meet the needs of each individual. example, in the kitchen, you might want a device that can help with recipes, while in the living room, you might want a device that can play music and control the TV.
By having an Alexa enabled device in every room, seniors will have access to the information and assistance they need, no matter where they are in the house. But most importantly, if they were to fall or get injured, a voice command can bring them some help.
Additionally, having multiple devices ensures that there is always a backup in case one device malfunctions.
Do You Have to Pay for Alexa in Your Car?
The Echo Auto device can be plugged in to your car’s cigarette lighter and it’s fairly easy to set up. It’s a way to have Alexa with you while you are on the road. But is there a cost?
Well, once you purchase the Echo Auto device, there’s no cost for Alexa. But, remember, it does need some type of Wi-Fi connection. So, if your smartphone has unlimited data, then no, you won’t pay any additional charges to use Echo Auto in your car.
But if you do not have unlimited data on your cellular plan, then you probably will end up paying overages.
Here’s a great video about the Echo Auto.
So, the beauty of Echo devices are that so many of what they can do for you is absolutely free. Even some of the great additional features (and there are new ones coming out all the time).
Here’s a link to some more articles that we’ve written about Alexa and what she can do.